Eros' "saddle," the large indentation in the asteroid's peanut-like shape, continues to reveal its diverse and fascinating landscapes. NEAR Shoemaker's camera snapped this picture of the southern part of the saddle on June 17, 2000, from an altitude of 51 kilometers (32 miles). Small craters are mostly absent, and on larger craters, the rims appear highly degraded and the floors flattened. These morphologic characteristics, when they appear on larger planets, typically are interpreted as evidence of blanketing on an older surface. On Eros, the blanketing layer would be regolith. The whole scene is approximately 1.9 kilometers (1.2 miles) across.
Built and managed by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, NEAR was the first spacecraft launched in NASA's Discovery Program of low-cost, small-scale planetary missions. See the NEAR web page at http://near.jhuapl.edu/ for more details.